The Best and Worst Paid Industries in the UK: 2021

London Commuters

Press Release

During 2020, an estimated 11.6 million jobs were put on furlough as a result of COVID-19. Data compiled by UK cloud payroll specialists, Staffology, found how the pandemic affected salaries for various industries around the nation.

Reviewing data of the average weekly pay by industries in the UK such as hospitality, transport, retail, and the arts, Staffology found that the most impacted industry for shrinking salaries was accommodation and food services (hospitality), taking a -3.59% hit to salary between 2019 and 2020, shifting the salary from £260 per week to £251 per week. The industry still hasn’t recovered entirely, with the change from 2020 to 2021 being only +0.4%, resulting in an extra £1 to payslips every week.

The industry that noticed a surge in salaries during the pandemic was manufacturing, which includes textiles, leather and clothing, seeing a +4.66% rise from 2019 to 2020, going from £430 per week to £451 per week. The Office of National Statistics stated that online sales were reaching higher than usual levels over the course of the pandemic, with online purchases representing 28.5% of sales in October, compared to 20.1% in February.

Since 2019, the highest paid industry has consistently been financial and insurance, sitting at an average weekly salary of £1,463 in 2021, 13.5% more than it was in 2019.

5 lowest-earning industries in 2021 Five salaries hit the hardest and five grown the most-01


  • Accommodation and Food Service Activities – £1,008 p/month
  • Retail Trade and Repairs – £1,416 p/month
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing – £1,652 p/month
  • Other Service Activities – £1,736 p/month
  • Manufacturing – Textiles, Leather and Clothing – £1,764 p/month

5 highest-earning industries in 2021

Highest and lowest salaries in the UK-02

  • Financial & Insurance Activities – £5,852 p/month
  • Mining and Quarrying – £4,844 p/month
  • Information and Communication – £3,904 p/month
  • Manufacturing – Chemicals and Man-Made Fibres – £3,536 p/month
  • Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities – £3,348 p/month

Caine Bird, expert technical payroll writer said: “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the world in multiple respects, however our analysis of the most recent government data highlights how it impacted salaries on a sliding scale. Despite reduced salaries over the past year, the industries that were hit the hardest by the pandemic – the arts, retail, and hospitality – have all experienced a growth in their weekly salaries during 2021, which is great to see. In fact, the arts were the second fastest growing industry in salary from 2020 to 2021, increasing by 11%.”

Comparing the average weekly salaries of the last ten years and 2021 alone, the industries that have grown the most are education, financial & insurance activities, and administrative and support service activities. Conversely, the three industries with the lowest growth rates are mining and quarrying, accommodation and food service activities, and transport and storage, all having grown less than 7% across the decade.


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